Bullfinch Pyrrhula pyrrhula

The Bullfinch is a large, plump finch which feeds on buds and fruit in woodlands, hedgerows, parklands, gardens and orchards. Beautiful, easy to tame and skilful at mimicry, it was often taken as a cage-bird in times past. Shy and secretive, its melancholy call may be the only indication of its presence in a thicket. Bullfinches usually nest in shrubs, such as hawthorn and blackthorn, making a flimsy nest out of twigs and moss.


Unmistakeable if seen well: male Bullfinches have a black cap, stubby black bill, grey back, black and white wing, black tail, white rump and rose-red breast. Females are greyish-brown.


Length: 16cm Wingspan: 26cm Weight: 21g Average Lifespan: 2 years


Classified in the UK as an Amber List species under the Birds of Conservation Concern review.



When to see

January – December


Bullfinches were once considered a serious pest in orchards, so much so that in the 16th century, Henry VIII condemned their ‘criminal attacks’ on fruit trees, and an Act of Parliament declared that one penny would be paid for every bird killed.

Common name


Species name

Pyrrhula pyrrhula

When to see in Scotland

January – December

Where to see in Scotland

Scottish Wildlife Trust reserves such as Bawsinch & Duddingston or Loch Ardinning.

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